Skip to main content

Bharat Gandhi: Victim of fierce, competitive Naga politics or insurgent extortion?

By Sandeep Pandey*
Bharat Gandhi alias Vishwatma is author of number of books including 'Rediscovering Democracy.' His booklet 'Bring Votership, Remove Poverty' has been published seven times. He is the leader of Voters Party International (VPI) and originally belongs to Janupur, Uttar Pradesh.
He is known for advocating a monthly votership or pension of around Rs 6,000 per month (according to 2016 rates) for every voter for his/her role in running the democratic system just like any other person in legislature, executive or judiciary is compensated for their role. 
He articulates that voter is the foundation on which pillars of democracy stand. Votership amount may be thought of as universal basic income which is being advocated by some economists and political parties like the Congress as well even though for poorest 20% of population.
Bharat Gandhi's idea of votership which may appear simplistic or infeasible on the face of it was actually endorsed by 137 members for debate in the Parliament in 2008 under rule 193 but for some strange reason it was never taken up for discussion. Then it was sent for examination of its feasibility to an 11 member committee headed by Deepak Goyal. 
In 2011 this committee saw merit in the idea and approved it as a solution to a number of problems faced by the country. The committee had consulted Constitutional expert Subhash Kashyap and famous economist and former Indian Institute of Management, Bengaluru Professor Bharat Jhunjhunwala. 
Bharat Gandhi has also floated a concept of Refundable Donation Receipt where every donation made by a citizen to the political party is proposed to be refunded with interest after getting a finance bill approved by the Parliament.
He has been advocating establishment of a world government too and has proposed a Global Alliance on Participation and Peace because he thinks problems like poverty, unemployment, corruption, inequity, illiteracy, environmental degradation, cultural degeneration, terrorism, malnourishment afflict every country. If a country claims to be solving any of the abovementioned problems it is probably just transferring this problem to some other country or countries. Hence he believes in global solution to these problems and that explains the name of his party.
VPI is a genuine political party which has contested elections in the past and got 50,355 votes in 7 constituencies of Assam, 44,245 votes in 7 contituencies of Bihar, 7,285 votes in 5 constituencies of Uttar Pradesh, 5,099 votes in one constituency of Jharkhand and 314 votes in one constituency of Delhi during the respective last assembly elections in these states. Over the past one year they have also started working in Nagaland. 
Bharat Gandhi's idea of votership  may appear simplistic but was endorsed by 137 members for debate in Parliament in 2008
Bharat Gandhi was arrested on March 13, 2020 from a cadre meeting in Dimapur of VPI along with Chukie Haralu, party's Nagaland coordinator, Prajit Basumatary, security chief of the party and three other security volunteers on charges of misleading people by accepting a donation of Rs 300 and offering a promise of Rs 6,000 per month to people.
The Refundable Donation Receipt resembles a promissory note which got him into trouble in Dimapur even though its design has been shared with Election Commission of India and Reserve Bank of India earlier. 
While others were released after some interrogation and making them sign on a piece of paper by police from Dimapur East police station, Bharat Gandhi was illegally held for 10 days by police before being sent to judicial custody after registering a case under sections 419, 420, 468, 471 and 34 of IPC against him.
Bharat Gandhi got bail on May 11, 2020 from High Court bench in Kohima as the police was not able to file a chargesheet which shows they have not been able to prove that VPI or Bharat Gandhi are cheating people or are commiting any kind of fraud. By putting him in jail Nagaland government has violated his Constitutional and democratic rights.
His party colleagues, Shivakant Gorakhpuri and Naveen Kumar, who went to secure his release were kidnapped from a Dimapur hotel on 19 May and taken to a camp of an insurgent group where a demand to pay Rs. 1 crore was made to them. When they expressed their inability to pay they were finally released on 27 May but on the condition that they will pay Rs. 32.5 lakh within a week.
It is unclear whether Bharat Gandhi has become a victim of fiercely competitive politics of Nagaland where local forces do not want an outsider to build some support for himself or he is merely a target for extortion by one of the insurgent groups. 
Northeast is known for the existence of a number of insurgent or extremist groups who have digressed from their political objectives and are now engaged in extortion for their survival. In some of the states every government employee has to make regular payments, often to more than one groups.
This may also be viewed as protection money, especially for business interests. The insurgent group which is targetting VPI was probably misled about its resources. VPI is not in a position to pay any kind of ranson as it is a party not financed by some capitalists but runs on donations from ordinary people.
The only way Bharat Gandhi can remain secure now is if his safe passage to Delhi or Lucknow is ensured under the security of some Central Security Forces, otherwise there are good chances that he may be kidnapped for ransom just like his colleagues.
---
*Magsaysay award winning social activist, vice-president of Socialist Party (India)

Comments

Vishwatma long live

TRENDING

India reaches 8th of 10 stage genocide: US Muslim advocacy group raises 'alert'

By Hena Zuberi* India has reached the 8th stage of genocide with the persecution of the Muslim community. Stating this, Professor Greg Stanton, who heads Genocide Watch, declared a Genocide Emergency Alert for India today at Justice For All online briefing.

Mayawati's 'success' depends on how BSP taps new crop of young Amdekarite leaders

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  Whatever be the election results in Uttar Pradesh on March 10, it is extremely important to understand: that the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and its leader Mayawati have the potential to rise like a Phoenix any time.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Anti-poor? 'Cumbersome' to link aadhaar, voter ID for people sans internet access

By Prashant Kumar Chaudhary, Ajit Kumar Jaiswal*  At present, technology plays an increasingly crucial part in modelling human existence by offering a variety of solutions to many of the challenges individuals confront in the real world. As a result, every branch of research works to provides means to solve these difficulties precisely and efficiently. The Central government works along the same lines as well.

India's actual Covid death rate about 2500 per million, third highest in world: Study

By Rajiv Shah  There is now well-researched proof, if it can be called that, indicating that the Government of India may have fudged data to show lower Covid death rate. A new paper, published in “Science”, has said that while officially the Government of India’s Covid-related death estimates as of January 1, 2022 – 345 per million population – are one-seventh of the US death rate, the actual analysis of crude death rate in India suggests, this may be a gross underestimation. 

Democratic leaders silently greeting Modi's 'increasingly autocratic' rule: HRW

Counterview Desk The Human Rights Watch (HRW)’s new “World Report 2022: Events of 2021”, claiming to “investigate abuses, expose facts widely, and pressure those with power to respect rights and secure justice”, has identified India as one of the countries where “autocracy is ascendant and democracy on the decline” because of emergence of leaders with autocratic tendencies.

Barbaric, inhuman attack on Odisha villagers to implement JSW project: NGO networks

Counterview Desk  A “solidarity statement" issued by three top civil society networks, Friends of the Earth India (FoE India), Delhi Solidarity Group (DSG) and the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), has asked the Odisha chief minister to ensure that the “inhumane barbaric attack on the villagers of Dhinkia, Odisha” in order to implement a corporate project.

Gender insensitive? Model Gujarat's cyclone relief package ignores 40,000 fisherwomen

CSJ volunteers talking to fisherwomen By Rajiv Shah  A Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) note on the Gujarat government’s compensation package to the victims of the devastating Tauktae cyclone, which hit the coastal belt of Saurashtra's Amerli, Rajula, Una, and Gir-Somnath districts in May 2021, has said, the relief offered was so terribly inadequate that many of the fisherfolk were not able to fish for the rest of the year.

Holding militant rallies across Punjab, farmers 'forced' Prime Minister to retreat to Delhi

By Harsh Thakor*  The farmers' spirit, elevated and reverberated at a boiling point in Ferozpur like a spark turning into a prairie fire, appears to be behind Prime Minister Narinder Modi having being compelled to retreat to Delhi due to a virtually boycotted pandal. Demonstrations held just ahead of Modi's visit, especially in Firozpur, seemed to have already created tremors in the belly of the ruling party.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".